Long Form Immersion, Day 3, with Susan Messing

Today, we started with Susan Messing. Another fine day of classes. This was a very intense week. As it was supposed to be!

Susan concentrates very heavily on physicality in improv. The physical is visceral and highly watchable. It is also inspiring both for the player and for the scene partners.

Susan’s Nuggets
Even in auditions, you will get it if you smile. People want to work with people they can get along with!
Treat auditions like a free workshop.

Build slowly and simply. This helps you to remember what has been done. Make simple choices, commit to them.

If you make a “mistake”, go with the attitude, mentally and externally, of “I’m so special that they gave me an alternative way of doing this!” – own it, live it, commit to it. Do not shy from it, this will get people’s attention and detract from what you are doing. Your audience wants to watch you having fun.

People can tell if you are committed. Commit to your smile. Commit to your actions – even if wrong. If you commit to something done wrong, to the audience it will look like it was done right.

Smile like the audience is your favourite food! (DJ ws)
(If you put a pencil in your mouth for 5 minutes a day, it will improve your overall mood as it forces you to smile. Bizarre but true)

We choreographed a group exercise. One person made four moves to four beats. The next person built on that, then the next and the next, until the whole class had given four moves, all of us doing them sequentially, together. (This is like the Desmond Jones Mime workshop)

Do everything to the best of your ability.

We are all in this together. Group work is beautiful to watch. Everyone must work, the audience notices both the most committed and the least committed. The least committed is the arsehole, so let it not be me! Commit to yourself and commit to the group.

Remember, “this (your body) is all you own on stage”, it is the only thong ove which you have control, so be awake, be alert.

The audience is on your side, they are thrilled to be watching you. Show off, have more fun than anyone else up there – have as much fun as physically possible.
People love to watch you having fun / enjoying yourself.

Watch the National Geographic documentary about North Korea with Lisa Ling. They are expert at using group choreography to create an amazing spectacle with very little

Aim it at the audience.

Susan’s Nuggets
“If you aren’t having fun, you are the arsehole”

Don’t “sort of” do anything.

Energy is contagious. Invite people into the joy. Taste the food with gusto, play at a 10, 10 is real.

Slow it down, enjoy it.

When you do it, do it with your whole body. Make it real. Commit to it with 100% energy.

And remember, specificity kills ambiguity.

Get specific. Then make it even more specific. It is not a dog, it is a 10 year old Alsatian with a claw missing on its left front paw, and it is drooling on the carpet.

We did lifting, back, front, straight up, sideways. Make it important. Make it specific. Make a clear movement.

Story theatre can be its own performance piece. Be safe!

We turned one girl into a banana, peeled her and then put her into the liquidizer. Sounds really added to the stage picture.

The narrator is inspired by the stage picture

Susan’s Nuggets
We are only limited by our lack of imagination and fear of looking stupid. The stage is our licence to shed the inhibitions.

If you ever start to judge the moment, that is the moment to recommit. Ramp it up even further. If you fear it, bite it.

If you start to query, go to the equal and opposite place. Whatever energy you put out there is right – if it is focussed.

Focus your energy together, as a group. This is important and creates power and energy on the stage.

Look at what the stage picture is and add to it. At the very least: Be ready, create sound and / or initiate.

Love your own baby.

First person story theatre. There are no mistakes, incorporate them. Be present. Fight through the fuzz. Whatever it takes, seize the moment. Seize the fuzz and blast through.

Story theatre can be done within a Harold or as a stand alone long form piece.

Discover the game. It is like the ambiguous game, there maybe myriad games within the piece.

One person narrates, everyone acts out the story around the narrator, and the narrator get his inspiration from the other players, developing the story, creating a piece. This would make a game within a Harold. This is amazing when done by many people at once.

Three person organic story theatre, be specific in the actions and object work. Think about what is unique about the objects. If you discover it is a pack of cards, shuffle them maybe. Show the size, the weight.

Join in! Either – do what the other people are doing – or add to the picture. No Judgement!
Also, Don’t Drop Your Shit. If you have chosen an attitude, keep it.

The first 3 seconds is your promise to the audience. If you break your promise, the audience will be disappointed.
Follow the template of what you have created.

Every single choice is great. Make a specific choice.

If there is an accident, turn it into something. Decide what that something is, and let it breathe. Don’t rush to decide, let it grow.

The actions are the strength of the piece, the words are just the glitter.


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